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Things you probably don’t know about your teeth

Dr Henry Selasie Akpaloo



The tooth is a very important part of the human anatomy that helps to breakdown food by cutting it down and grinding it so as to enable swallowing and digestion. They also play an important role in speaking and support many aspects of your facial structure. Knowledge of the types and parts of the tooth is important for an individual to enable us take proper care and use it for the right purpose.



There are two set of teeth in the lifetime of every individual
Deciduous (primary) teeth: a set of twenty teeth which start erupting at 6 month of life and completed at 3 years.
Permanent teeth: replaces the deciduous teeth and starts erupting from age 6 till 18-21 years of age. They are 32 in number.




Types of teeth
Incisors – the sharp, chisel-shaped 8 teeth situated at the front of the mouth (four upper, four lower) used for cutting and biting of small pieces of food. They also aid in pronunciation of some words (words containing the letter ‘s’) and support the lips.
Canines – sometimes called cuspids, these teeth are shaped like points (cusps) and are long and sharp. They are situate on each side of the upper and lower incisors. Used for holding and tearing food.
Premolars – these teeth have two pointed cusps on their biting surface and are sometimes referred to as bicuspids. The premolars are for crushing and grinding soft food. 4 on each jaw making 8 in total.
Molars –are 12 in total (6 upper and 6 lower) and used for grinding and chewing hard food, these teeth have several cusps on the biting surface to help in this process. The third molars are known as wisdom teeth are the last to erupt in the oral cavity.




Parts of the tooth
The tooth is divided into two main parts; the crown and the root.
Crown– portion of the tooth visible above the gum
Root– portion of the tooth covered by the gum and embedded in bone. Not visible to the eye




Tooth structures
Enamel is the white translucent outer covering that surrounds the crown of the tooth. It is the hardest substance in the human body and made up of minerals including calcium phosphate. It is composed of strong minerals, including calcium phosphate. It is usually resistant to caries but can be destroyed by bacteria through a process if proper care is not taken.
Dentine is the material forming the main inner portion of the tooth structure. It is found underneath the enamel surface of the tooth and underneath the cementum that forms along a tooth’s roots. It contains many tubules making it less resistant to caries. Exposed dentine leads to sensitivity.
Cementum is the structure covering the root surface of the tooth. It continues with the enamel from the crown but softer. Cementum assists with root stability by attaching to the fibres that anchor the tooth in the jawbone.
Pulp is the vital tissues of the tooth consisting of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. It made up of the pulp chamber and pulp canals.
Pulp chamber – open area in center of tooth, found in the crown area; place for the pulpal tissues.
Pulp canal – small canal or trench area in the center of the root, containing the pulpal vessels. A tooth may have one root and many premolar and molar teeth may contain two or three roots.


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Dr. Henry Selasie Akpaloo is a graduate of the University of Ghana School of Medicine and Dentistry, Accra, Ghana where he obtained both Bachelor of medical sciences and Bachelor of dental surgery degrees. He is a member of the Medical and Dental Council, Ghana, Ghana Medical Association and Ghana Dental Association who is on a mission to make a positive difference in the lives of children, youths and adults by offering the highest-quality dental care and education, when he's not busy doing that, you can find him watching and playing football, reading or socializing. You can catch up with him via Twitter: @biggles4eva Or Snapchat: @biggles4eva